CONYERS - Tonight's Rockdale-Heritage boys basketball game looks to be one of the most significant rivalry games in years for the two programs.
A win for Heritage keeps the Patriots at the head of the pack in Region 8-AAAA South, while a Rockdale win means the two teams would be tied for first in the subregion.
And with less than three weeks remaining until the region tournament, the drama doesn't get any better than this.
Heritage coach Ron Bradley said the atmosphere will be electric tonight at Rockdale.
"We're looking forward to it. It's going to be a big night," Bradley said. "I would think that's it's going to be a jam-packed crowd."
Bradely said playing disciplined, yet aggressive basketball will be the key.
"I think the team that can take care of the ball and get on the boards is going to have a good chance to win," he said.
The last time the two teams tangled, the Patriots came away with a 75-61 victory on their home court. This time, however, the Patriots must tread the path on Rockdale's turf.
Rockdale boys coach Mitchell Harris is hoping he can even the score with a win at home tonight.
"It was an advantage for them to have it at their place last time, so we're hoping it's an advantage for us at our place. We've watched some film on them and made some adjustments on our approach," Harris said. "We've got to keep our heads in the game. The last couple of games, we've handled adversity very well, so hopefully that's a trend that will carry us through the rest of the season and into the region tournament. The kids are feeling more confident about each other, and we're going to see if it'll play out on the court. The kids are excited about it."
Another key matchup on the boys side involves Eastside and Cedar Shoals. An Eastside win coupled with a Rockdale loss would make the Eagles, Bulldogs and Jaguars all 4-3 in subregion play. In the other subregion game, the Seminoles travel to Alcovy in a battle of 1-5 subregion records.
On the girls side, the Lady Patriots will take their 6-0 subregion record to Rockdale where they take on the Lady Bulldogs, who are 2-4 in subregion play.
The Salem girls will try to stay on the Lady Patriots' heels with a win at Alcovy tonight, while the Lady Eagles are still looking for their first subregion win as they face Cedar Shoals.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: 8-AAAA South standings